SFTE India Holds Flight Test Seminar 2023

SFTE India, in partnership with SETP Indian Section, held a Flight Test Seminar on  December 16, 2023.  It was hosted by the Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS), a laboratory under the Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO), Govt. of India. This was the first ever in-person event since the establishment of the India Chapter in 2019 — the previous three being online by Zoom. The seminar was attended by 70 delegates in all, representing Chapter members, flight testers of ASTE / IAFTPS and HAL, as well as scientists / designers from DRDO and the National Aeronautics Laboratory. It was a rousing response to our call for networking and knowledge share, and every attendee felt richly rewarded.  

Dr K Rajalakshmi, Distinguished Scientist & Director CABS,  gave the Keynote.  Her address revealed that CABS had done more than 1000 hrs of flight testing to prove their systems on the Embraer 145.  The flight testing program was scheduled to take 42 months and was completed in 49. There are several follow-on programs in the offing, and CABS also intends to set up its own flight test centre.

In the first talk, Gp Capt RR Senthil KumarM, FTE at ASTE, proposed AI / ML Applications for flight test optimization. After a teasing introduction he dwelt on discriminative versus generative models, followed by simple explanations of some complex issues. He listed the benefits and pitfalls. His focus on effort optimization for cost reduction was distinct. There will be many buyers in the community!

Gp Capt AS KumaranM, FTE at CABS, next gave a talk on the Evaluation of Max Detection Range Performance of airborne radars, with examples and practical lessons learnt from flight testing of the ‘NETRA’ AEW & C radar at CABS. His coverage touched upon FAR requirements, detection probability, RCS of different types of targets at varying aspect ratios, as well as their approach to flight test.

After a coffee break, the next session was preceded by motivational talks by the President of SFTE India chapter and the Chairman of SETP Indian section. Both highlighted the profession, and urged the community to increase membership to promote networking opportunities and professional development, to enhance safety and cost effectiveness of flight testing.

The third talk was by Gp Capt KK Venugopal (AF) (Ret), Chief TP, and Wg Cdr P Awasthi (Retd) TP of HAL.  They described the spin flight testing of the HTT-40 turbo-trainer. The aircraft has cleared military certification requirements as well as the FAA civil requirements. Between them they covered theoretical predictions, preparatory work, build up of the program, challenges, techniques, incertitudes, work-arounds and requirement compliances. A liberal measure of humor in their presentation contrasted well with the seriousness of the program.

In the final talk of the day, Col Aju Mangalay, External Pilot and Head of the Army Project Management Team at Aeronautical Development Establishment, described the development and flight testing of the TAPAS remote piloted aircraft and lessons learned. TAPAS is an ongoing program of the DRDO.

Among highlights were SFTE / SETP Mementos presented to the Director of CABS in gratitude of her organization's support to the flight test fraternities, and coffee mug souvenirs with SFTE / SETP logos to the speakers in appreciation of their contribution. All chapter / section officers engaged in this activity, in turn.

The proceedings were not recorded, but  CABS compiled a rich collection of memorable pictures that showcase the event. For more details or queries on any aspect of the event please email  SFTE India.


Event organizers, speakers, and chapter officers.
Keynote speech by the Director of CABS
Senthil Kumar presents AI-ML for Flight Test Optimization
Delegates group photo
Devendra presents a souvenir to Kumaran
Bhat presents a souvenir to Col Aju